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Second Circuit Clarifies 90-Day Limitation on EEOC Claims

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

If you’re planning to kick off the New Year by filing a disability discrimination claim in a Second Circuit Court of Appeals feeder court, make sure your claim isn’t time-barred.

Last month, the Second Circuit clarified the receipt requirements of the 90-day filing limitation for equal employment claims in Tiberio v. Allergy Asthma Immunology of Rochester.

The claimant in the case, Lorrie Tiberio, was hired by Allergy Asthma Immunology of Rochester, (AAIR) in 2007. She was fired from her position in 2010, following accusations that she had unlawfully gained access to the medical charts of other employees and had falsely ordered prescriptions.

Tiberio filed a disability discrimination charge with the New York State Division of the Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the latter issued a right-to-sue letter on November 24, 2010. The right-to-sue letter was mailed to Tiberio, with copies to AAIR and to Tiberio's counsel.

A claimant has 90 days from receipt of a right-to-sue letter to file an EEOC claim. There is a presumption that a mailed document is received three days after its mailing, absent sworn testimony or other admissible evidence from which it could reasonably be inferred either that the notice was mailed later than its typewritten date or that it took longer than three days to reach her by mail.

Tiberio filed a disability discrimination claim in the district court on February 28, 2011, 96 days after the right-to-sue letter was issued. Three months later, the district court dismissed Tiberio's claim as untimely, and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her remaining state law claim.

On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Tiberio's argument that the date her attorney received the right-to-sue letter should control the limitations decision. The court found that Tiberio's interpretation of the 90-day limitation would afford a claimant represented by counsel an unfair extension of time beyond her own receipt of an EEOC notice, simply by delaying delivery to her attorney.

To avoid future confusion regarding the issue, the Second Circuit explicitly stated that the 90-day period to file equal employment claims begins to run on the date that a right-to-sue letter is first received either by the claimant or by counsel, whichever is earlier. Since the court presumed Tiberio received the right-to-sue letter 93 days before she filed her disability discrimination claim, her claim was time-barred.

Before filing an EEOC claim that could reach the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, double-check your calendar to ensure that the claim is not time-barred. More importantly, if you or your client received an EEOC right-to-sue letter more than three days after the mailing date, provide evidence or sworn testimony of the date of receipt with your complaint to avoid the three-day receipt presumption.

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